Saturday, 6 June 2009

Doctor Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth

World's End

""What you need is a jolly good smacked bottom!"

Wahey, back to DVD! A very "traditional" opening here from a later viewpoint, with a mysterious figure dying in a brief first shot which piques our curiosity. Still no dematerialisation sound from the outside as the TARDIS lands, I notice.

Oh look- our friends are cut off from the TARDIS. What were the odds of that then? Susan twists her ankle here, but I can't recall it happening often before this, if at all. That's one fan myth debunked.

Good Lord! Location footage! With the cast! They've thrown everything at this production. The flying saucer also looks great.

Great cliffhanger! It may make no sense, but I don't care.

The Daleks

"I think we'd better pit our wits against them and defeat them!"

The Doctor's show of defiance to the Dalek is utterly splendid. As is the very first "resistance is useless!" to be heard in Doctor Who. An interesting statement from the Doctor though: "What happened on Skaro was a million years in the future". Sounds pretty unequivocal. We'll see how the continuity works itself out! Apparently this is the "middle history" of the Daleks. The Daleks are very different here; they've changed from the paranoid, survival-obsessed creatures of their first appearance to obvious Nazi analogues. The whole mood of this story evokes Nazi occupied Europe.

Nice multi-coloured skirt being sported by the Dalek Supreme!

The necessary exposition (or "blab about Bedfordshire") to explain the Dalek invasion is nicely handled, with the camera cutting between Craddock and David Campbell. There's something very Day of the Triffids here, firmly within the mid-twentieth century British tradition of catastrophe sci-fi.

It's a very nice touch that the Dalek flying saucer interiors have not only the pulsating sounds from the previous story but also the same circular monitors playing a loop of the title sequence!

The Daleks seem totally in control here, with little apparent hope. This is undercut by humour though; the Doctor's rudeness towards the defeatist Craddock is most amusing. Hartnell is great with the puzzle. I'm not sure why the Daleks need intelligent people to be Robomen. Or is this simply a means of getting rid of potential troublemakers?

Day of Reckoning

"Why? What's so special about the Doctor? He doesn't wear some sort of invisible shield, does he?"

The Dalek Supreme now has a totally black casing. The world of Dalek fashion is clearly fast-moving. And the world of Dalek geography is more than a little wanting: Bedfordshire is not in central England!

Susan's scene with David is excellently written and played, and more than a little prophetic; it's good to see how the budding relationship gets proper development.

The location filming in London with all the landmarks didn't make much impression on me with previous viewings, but watching the story as part of a marathon really makes you appreciate the contrast with the studio-bound claustrophobia of previous stories. No wonder they milk these scenes for all they're worth.

The scene where the Doctor and Susan argue about David's plan is quite wonderfully done. The Doctor can see what's going on and is not without resentment: "You seem to place more reliance on that young man's word than mine". But in eventually suggesting what he knows to be David's plan he implicitly gives his blessing to the relationship. There's a lot going on in this scene.

We get to see six actual Daleks on screen together, suggesting this story had a relatively huge budget. And there's been no obvious use of cardboard cutouts either.

The End of Tomorrow

"Are you one of these 'brotherhood of man' kind of people?"

The scenes of slave labour inside the Dalek camp evoke certain very powerful associations, but in the overall context and mood of the story the Holocaust references never seem to be gratuitous or frivolous as they so easily could have.

Barbara ramming those Daleks with the old lorry is brilliant! I love Barbara's thrilled reaction afterwards.

The long scene of Daleks talking in the middle of the episode is extremely dull, and the Daleks speak so slowly in this story. Fortunately the guest cast are much better handled. David explains to Susan of Tyler that "He's afraid to make friends. He's known too much killing". This kind of line helps to give the characters the illusion of depth, and we get to know the likes of Jenny and Dortmund via similar methods.

The Black Dalek is the "commandant of the camp". Once again, the phrase has certain associations.

I love Susan's reply to David after he asks if she's ok, having just saved her from falling off a ladder into some stock footage: "Yes, swinging!"

I've just had a massive post about the last two episodes and the story overall just disappear into the ether. I suppose the moral here is to save everything before you post!

Grrr. I'll repost it all tomorrow.

The Waking Ally

"They dare to tamper with the forces of creation?"

"Yes, they dare! And we have got to dare to stop them."

So the "waking ally" of the title is in fact the Doctor, who woke up last episode? Okaaay...

Yay, the Dalek doors in Bedfordshire are the same as the ones on Skaro with those cool noises and Dalek-friendly opening mechanisms! The new, chunkier Daleks look great, especially the Black Dalek.

Interesting comment from the Doctor in relation to certain past events: "I never take life, only when my own is immediately threatened!"

The scene with the collaborator women is important here as its an essential element of any tale of Nazi occupation. I like the older woman's self-justifying comment as the Daleks take Jenny and Barbara away: "Oh well, she'd have been captured anyway".

It's an incredible coincidence that the Roboman turns out to be Larry's brother, but it's an effective scene so I'll let that pass. The Robomen don't seem to be all that physically strong, mind; all through this story they're being overpowered without much trouble.

It's nice to see more development of the relationship between Susan and David as we rush towards the end. Nice comment from the Doctor as he discovers the couple frolicking merrily: "Quite, quite! I can see something's cooking!" Sadly, after the Doctor's arrival the bad science bombardment starts the scene takes a turn for the worse. Most of the more egregious absurdities of the plot are laid bare here. So the Daleks' main base on Earth is in, er, Bedfordshire? Is the Earth's crust particularly thin there or summat? And Earth is the only planet with a magnetic core? Er, yeees...

Another implausible coincidence as Ian happens to run into Barbara at the mine. Once again though, I don't particularly mind as I'm enjoying myself. I like the way we see how utterly magnificent and indomitable Barbara is by partnering her, not with a comparative wimp as would seem obvious, but with Jenny, who's no shrinking violet herself yet by this point is in awe of Barbara.

We end with more bad science from the Daleks' conversation being rendered entirely forgivable by a magnificent cliffhanger.


"One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. Until then, let there be no tears, no regrets, no anxieties. Simply go forward in all your beliefs, and prove to me that I am not mistaken in mine."

So Ian avoids plunging to his doom by the fact that he happens to be crouching. I love this programme.

It's suddenly noticeable that the Daleks seem to be speaking in truncated sentences, missing out a lot of indefinite articles. Has it now been decided that Daleks are dull speakers and their dialogue should be cut down? We get some chilling dialogue here though: "Then arrange for the extermination of all human beings." "The final solution." "Kill, kill." The human slaves are then effectively herded into the gas chambers. These are very powerful themes for Saturday teatime.

I notice the same neck braces from the earlier story being used to restrain Barbara and Jenny in the Dalek control room, which is designed in such a fashion to induce nostalgia for, er, a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately there are a couple of dodgy bits here, as the Daleks' bomb is clearly a model and a Dalek obviously sees the Doctor in his hiding place. Also, more bad science: "if they succeed, it means they will upset the entire constellation". All this is immediately forgiven by virtue of the Dalek POV shot though- this is The Coolest Thing Ever.

The Daleks seem to be defeated very suddenly. Have they really been defeated worldwide? We're treated to a lot of stock footage of random natural disasters here.

The final scene is brilliantly written, directed and acted, with the physical acting and positioning of Susan and David particularly well done. I didn't think I would at the start of this marathon, but I'll miss Susan. I've come to side with the character and with Carole Ann Ford in their struggle at the pipe smoking male writers who haven't a clue how to write teenage girls.

Overall I've enjoyed this story very much, which has surprised me as I remember being distinctly underwhelmed when I last saw it a few years ago. Perhaps seeing it in context has made me appreciate its epic feel. A strong 4/5.


The Aztecs 5/5
Marco Polo 5/5
The Reign of Terror 5/5
An Unearthly Child 5/5
The Dalek Invasion of Earth 4/5
Planet of Giants 4/5
The Daleks 3/5
The Sensorites 3/5
The Edge of Destruction 2/5
The Keys of Marinus 1/5

And it's also time for...

The Terry Nation Cliché Count

Mysterious figure follows female companion but later turns out to be a goodie: 1
Anti-radiation drugs: 1
Countdown: 2
Daleks at the cliffhanger to part one: 2
Our heroes unable to return to the TARDIS: 3
Trek through hostile environment: 2
Cowardly character dies a heroic death: 1
Part 1 spent exploring: 3
Jungle: 2
Character displays a grave moral failing making their death inevitable: 2
Episode opens with the strange death of a mysterious figure: 1
Big bomb: 2

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